INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 is prompting a surge in domestic violence in Central Indiana, according to advocates and survivors.
The government is telling people to stay home, but for some people their home is not a safe place.
The stress and isolation stemming from the coronavirus is a recipe for increased abuse and violence in the home.
On Monday, domestic frustrations bubbled over on Manning Road on the northwest side of Indianapolis after an estranged husband shot and killed a family friend and then himself, according to police.
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“There is no excuse for domestic violence,” IMPD Officer Genae Cook said. “As we all spend more time in our homes, know that you are not alone – there are many resources that remain available.”
Maranda Barnett, of Fishers, is a survivor of domestic violence and she’s worried about a surge amid the pandemic.
"When I was a victim of domestic violence, I was actually trapped in my house for a short time and that was about six months of a nightmare for me,” Barnett said. “To not be able to physically leave or do anything about it because of monetary problems and other issues, was one of the hardest things I've ever been through."
Beacon of Hope Crisis Center in Indianapolis is seeing an increase in calls, but a decrease in the ability of victims to get out of harm’s way.
"Victims are afraid to stay and they're afraid to leave right now, so that's pretty tragic,” said Sandra Ziebold, CEO of Beacon of Hope Crisis Center. “They're limited because their abusers are home right now so they may not be able to have access or easily contact us online."
Domestic violence in Marion County already occurs at a rate eight times the national average, said Andrew Campbell, and Indianapolis base consultant who does training on domestic violence prevention.
"We know perpetrators particularly in Marion County we see high rates of alcohol abuse among them,” Campbell said. “Bars are closed and so they are drinking much more frequently in the home and further increasing risk."
Neighbors can be a big help by reporting animal neglect and abuse.
"It gives professionals an opportunity to check on the humans in the home," Campbell said. “Neighbors are more likely to call regarding an animal than human members of the household. If you see pets that are being abused or neglected, we want that to be reported as well.”
Barnett said you should call your friends and family and ask how they are.
"Don't just ask how they're doing,” Barnett said. “Pay attention to what their answers actually are.”
Organizations like Beacon of Hope and The Julian Center can help you put a safety plan together or e-file a protective order.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of help, call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
The Office of Public Health and Safety also said residents should learn the five signs to help identify when someone may be in emotional pain — personality change, agitation, acting withdrawn, practicing poor self-care, expressing hopelessness.
OPHS also said anyone who is struggling can access these resources:
- National Suicide Preventintion Lifeline: 1-800-TALK (8255)
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-TALK (8255), press 1
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- Call Connect2Help 2-11 or visit them online for connections to non-emergency mental health and counseling resources.
IMPD says community members who see a neighbor in imminent danger should call 911. Those wanting to report a case of domestic violence that is not occurring at the moment may do so by calling Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.